One of my beefs with Lotro has been the declining state of its music. On a whole it’s never been particularly stellar, especially when you compare it to Jeremy Soule’s compositions (I’ve never played Guild Wars, yet I know all the soundtracks quite well. And of course one can’t forget The Elder Scrolls Series. <3), but it’s certainly had its moments of greatness. I think up until the Lothlorien area the music in Lotro was largely decent with some tracks being better than others. But afterwards, especially with Rise of Isengard, the music took a turn for the worse. I believe music should help immerse you in the environment and perhaps create memories or evoke feelings of that area, not jar you out of it. “Ugh, what on earth IS that? *quickly goes to UI Audio and promptly turns music volume to 0*” It’s the later that’s been happening to me post-Moria (though I’m ambivalent about the Mirkwood area). In my opinion, we’ve gone from music that actually had a regional feel that fit the region it was meant to represent, varied tunes, actual themes and a more complex harmonic structure and counter melodies to music that is bombastic (not in a good way), meandering, unfocused, simplistic and lacking form.
Lotro has rehired Chance Thomas to compose music for the game again which was news I welcomed as this meant the game music should at least be okay with moments of very good. 😛 Today they’ve released a track called “Lotro Legacy”:
Not a lot new there, but it’s promising nonetheless in my opinion. There’s a reworked Tom Bombadil’s theme and the theme I associate with the skirmish tutorial. 😛 It’s still infinitely better than this…. well… junk:
This is what we’ve been subjected to lately. There are more examples such as the music from the Northcotton Farm instance or Lost Temple instance It’s cringeworthy to me when you compare it to other pieces in the collective Lotro score. I’ve actually found it difficult to find post-Mirkwood music, especially RoI music, online. I wonder why? [/sarcasm]
On the whole, I think I might like the Mines of Moria soundtrack the best, specifically what sound to be fleshed out, full orchestra tracks as opposed to the synthetic ones. Since I’ve just assaulted your ears with some horrible music, here are what I think the better moments of Lotro music are:
- My absolute favourite music of the game is the music that occurs in Walls of Moria area. I always get excited when I begin that epic and go crank up the music volume. The Hollin Gate (love the all the arpeggios!) and Hour of Doom are simply gorgeous. They both make me stop my gameplay, sit there and just listen.
- Trollshaws music – this wasn’t released on the soundtrack which is a pity. I specifically remember the first time I rode into the Trollshaws, saw all the gorgeous autumnal trees and this music that started to play. I had a lovely ride through the area, enjoying the sights and the music. Other notable music from the region: Things to Come, Vale of Imladris, East of the Sea, and Red Stone and Golden Leaves.
- I quite enjoy the Lothlorien music, yet I find it has low replayability. If I’m questing in the area, I eventually have to turn it off. Though for a while The Golden Wood, The Falls of Nimrodel, unreleased Caras Galadhon music are all very enjoyable.
- Tom Bombadil’s Theme – it fits wonderfully to me. It creates such a light and joyous atmosphere as you exit the Old Forest. I can just picture Tom skipping around and singing. Listening to the music makes me want to grab my hobbit, pay him a visit and skip along with him!
- Hills of the Shire – I always hear this bit of music whenever I cross the Brandywine Bridge into Buckland. So cheery and pastoral and hobbit-like! There’s also Silent Hope which is a soothing track that to me is reminiscent of the main theme of Hills of the Shire.
- Lament for Oakenshield – suitably dwarfy with the male choir. Moving music that fits its corresponding instance.
- The better bits of the Moria region’s music: A Journey in the Dark – this is what always plays first for me when I enter Moria. It really sets the mood with its minor key and sounds heavy, a bit dark and ominous, yet at the same time grand and evoking a feeling of being in an old, enormous and important location. Khazad-Dum – this track really brings the depths of Moria to life. This is the track that’s featured in what I find to be the most fun session play of the game yet, We Cannot Get Out, where you play the dwarf Ori. Archers of the Galadrim – strange name for the track considering it only ever plays in the Morroval area of Moria for me. I find it quite a fun track!
There’s even more good music that hasn’t been officially released.
Besides the quality of the music there are three things I wish they’d address, though I’m not holding my breath for any of this to happen:
- A toggle on/off for combat music. In the past I have avoided mobs when good music was playing. It’s immersion breaking to have a mob get your character into combat and have some brash combat music with bagpipes start up!
- Keep regional music regional. It’s also immersion breaking to hear Lothlorien music in Eregion or music you normally hear in Bree city out in the wilds of Dunland. I’m not quite sure when they started doing this (Enedwaith release perhaps?), but it was quite noticeable once it started.
- Fix the ambient sound bug. I highly recommend cranking up the ambient sound to max. Aside from Angmar and the Nan Curunir area (I’m not sure what the person who made those sounds was smoking at the time), it’s fantastic and brings the game to life for me. But sometimes, the game will trigger the wrong sounds, such as Breeland birds chirping whilst you’re in Moria.
Going through the soundtracks has been quite fun and has helped me remember how varied the soundtrack has been in the past and really highlighted how Turbine hasn’t been doing the latest regions justice. There’s really nothing distinguishing about the music whatsoever. Given what Thomas has done before, I’m really hoping that he’ll bring back the regional, thematic flavour of the game’s music.